Generative artificial intelligence (AI) has caused a seismic shift in how we perform many of our day-to-day tasks. Tools such as ChatGPT (general content), Jasper (marketing content), GitHub Copilot (code completion) and DALL-E 2 (image and art generation) have introduced innovation and reduced the time it takes for creators to build content.

The technology is not without controversies. Everything from potential misuse and malicious applications, the actual and perceived threat to employment and inherit biases driven by the data its trained on are just some of the reasons that people hesitate to adopt generative AI.

The training industry is no different from others in its excitement — and hesitation — to adopt generative AI. Many training leaders and training content creators are eager to harness the benefits of AI, but struggle to understand how generative AI fits in their existing workflows.

For those who are open to disrupting their training processes, this article will talk about what it is (and isn’t) and will consider 11 questions you need to ask before selecting a generative AI tool to use for training purposes.

What Is Generative AI?

Generative AI is a type of AI that synthesizes content like essays, blogs, graphs and images based on knowledge it already has. Generative AI can reengineer content, but it cannot infer or extrapolate. You need to be specific about what you want and feed it with the right subject matter expertise.

Since generative AI does not have real world experience and judgement to validate and augment its outputs, it is a productivity tool rather than a replacement for people.

The Promise of AI for Training

Heads of training and course development departments all face a similar challenge — keeping up with the demand to build new and refresh training content. In some organizations, training content often lags by a few months, which means that learners are not gaining access to the most recent information available. This is especially true with agile development processes and growing customer expectations.

Generative AI can play a role in revolutionizing the role of training in the overall learner (and customer) lifecycle but learning leaders and practitioners should take the time to select the right tool for the application at hand.

Questions to Ask Before Selecting a Generative AI Tool

There are many AI-enabled tools in the market and finding the right one can be a daunting task. Here are 11 questions to ask when selecting a tool to support your training efforts.

  1. Is the generative AI tool designed for training content? Look for a tool that is trained to build training content, and can support the development of content for eLearning, videos, presentations, instructor-led training (ILT), microlearning and more.
  2. What data sources are used to build the training content? Select a tool where you control the content that is used to build the training content. This will enable you to build company- and product-specific content. Also ask which types of formats are accepted. You will want a tool that can work with the document formats used by your development teams, such as Word documents, HTML pages, presentations and video recordings.
  3. Which kinds of training content can be created? Today’s learning programs are multi-dimensional and multi-channel. Look for a tool that goes beyond eLearning content and can support building content for presentations, videos and more.
  4. Which output formats are supported? Look for tools that support output formats such SCORM, xAPI and CMI5 so the content is compatible with most off-the-shelf learning management systems (LMSs).
  5. Can you add your own customization, such as branding? Look for a tool that allows you to define the style and branding to deliver a consistent look and feel.
  6. Does the tool offer any collaboration features? Creating great training requires the input of subject matter experts (SMEs), so look for a tool that allows experts to provide feedback directly into the course.
  7. What data privacy and security tools are offered? Look for features like access control to adhere to data protection regulations and proper handling of sensitive information.
  8. Is the tool easy to use? Ensure that the tool is not overly complex or hard to navigate. An intuitive tool will increase adoption.
  9. What kind of support and documentation is available? Inquire about online help, email support and even personalized training options to ensure that the support and documentation meet the needs of your training team.
  10. How much does the tool cost? When looking at the pricing of the tool, consider the pricing structure, licensing models, support costs and any additional costs associated with using the tool. Some tools have a limit on the amount of content you can generate within a plan and will charge extra if you go over these caps.
  11. Can I test it out? Before making a purchase, demo the tool with your own content and verify that the speed, output and the quality of the content meets your expectations.

Evaluate Value and ROI

When calculating the value and ROI, also consider the benefits of having a training department that can keep up with the rest of the business. Faster and better training translates into savings and benefits for sales, customer success, customer support, human resources (HR) teams, partners and customers.

If your stakeholders haven’t asked you what cost and productivity benefits you can harness with AI, rest assured: They will soon. By being prepared to leverage this technology (and the associated training workflow changes), you can maximize its benefits for training and development in your organization.